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8. ECTA Interviews
"Furthermore, the relationship with each of FIA· s
member clubs at the local or national level is also
very important as it can be used to resolve a potential issue far quicker than a trade mark opposition. So, ensuring that all team members (both
inhouse and external) understand the political
and strategic aspects of motor sport is also key''.
Cécile Samalens is the Legal Counsel Trade marks
& Contracts of the Fédération Internationale de
I 'Automobile ("FIA").
An average day at FIA ....
This question got a laugh and a quick response
"not one day is the same at FIA!"
The FIA is the governing body for world motor
sport and the federation of the world's leading
motoring organizations. Founded in 1904 the
Fédération Internationale de I' Automobile is a
non-profit making association. lt brings together 245 national motoring and sporting organizations from 143 countries in five continents. The
FIA has a dual structure with headquarters in
Paris and in Geneva.
"I sit within the Commercial Legal Affairs team
and am responsible for the wide ranging commercial aspects of the FIA activities including, amongst
others, trade mark protection and enforcement.
However, it does not stop here - we provide legal
advice and guidance on the IP aspects associated
with, amongst others, events (conference organization and promotional events), the creation and
management of new championships. I also assist
the different departments of the FIA with the
negotiations and drafting of partnership or promotion agreements. I also handle trade mark office disputes, pre-litigation and litigation matters
with the assistance of my trade mark agents and
outside counsels. I have regular meetings with my
external clients to understand their expectations
and negotiate directly with the FIA stakeholders."
Given the heady mix of high octane motor sport,
trade marks and a varying career encompassing
private practice, the European Commission, the
International Olympic Committee and now FIA.
this was always going to be a fun article to write!
Taking advantage of a break in her schedule,
I caught up with Cécile to not only reminisce
about her time in Alicante, but to discuss her
background, the challenges faced by the motor
sports sector as well as her involvement with
ECTA and what she saw as the organization's key
strengths and areas for improvement.
How it all started
Having obtained her law degree from the Faculty of Law of Toulouse, France, Cécile followed
her passion for travel by embarking on an Erasmus exchange program at Queen· s University
Belfast, Northern Ireland and then studying for
and obtaining a Masters from the University of
Valparaiso, Chile in International Law.
Returning to Europe in 2010, Cécile took her
first steps into the world of Intellectual Property
by obtaining an L.L.M in Intellectual Property
Law from the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) in Strasbourg.
While preparing for the French Bar exam Cecile
gained experience in the legal departments of
Thalès, the French Basketball Federation, Sephora (part of the LVMH Group) and Beiersdorf as
well as in the Intellectual Property departments
of Hogan Lovells, Alicante and Demons, Paris.
This was followed by a stint in the IPR Enforcement Group of the Directorate General for Tax22 I ECTA Bulletin
ation and Customs Union within the European
Commission, where she was part of the team
responsible for drafting and implementing EU
Regulation 608/2013 concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights. From
here her specialization in and focus on trade
mark prosecution and enforcement was born.
Given the phenomenal sums involved in sports,
through advertising, marketing and merchandising and the significant implications associated with getting it wrong, it is no surprise that
trade marks, including the clearance, prosecution, enforcement and, in particular, their exploitation, are of paramount importance to FIA.
Trade marks from the governing body perspective
The need to consider all aspects associated with
the use of a brand or marketing concept in connection with a FIA Championship (such as the
newly created, FIA Formula 2), a FIA Campaign
(FIA Action for Road Safety including the recent
#3500Lives and the #SaveKidslives campaigns,
FIA Action for Environment, FIA Women in
Sport) or a FIA institutional event such as the
FIA Sport Conference, FIA Mobility Conference
and FIA Prize Giving, means that "we invest in
building and developing long standing relationships with our team of external trade mark counsel. We need them to be our eyes and ears on
the national level advising not in a vacuum, but
considering the array of trade mark related issues
that come into play in protecting the exclusivity of
FIA branded and sanctioned competitions''.
Cécile's entry into the world of sports, a topic
very close to her heart, really started with The
International Olympic Committee during the
closing of the Sochi Winter Games and the run
up to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,
2016. She was involved in the naming, selection,
clearance and protection of the Rio Games mascot, Vinicius. To put it simply, "who would have
thought that the choice of a mascot design and
name - satisfying a range of cultural, linguistic,
political and marketing conditions and requirements - could be so complicated! lt is a complete
minefield and one that others are ready to exploit
at the earliest opportunity."
8. ECTA Interviews
Cécile equates working inside an organization
like FIA as "a bit like playing basketball. You
are working with very different players within a high tempo environment." Managing the
expectations of external and internal clients,
manufactures, the array of high profile sponsors combined with the level of press interest in
and exposure attached to the marquee events
like the FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIPS
results in Cécile "wearing many different hats
when it comes to ensuring the protection, enforcement and usage of our brands during the many
different events held on a daily basis under the
FIA brand around the globe".
The global nature of motorsport and the diverse
level of involvement from grass root entry level
events right up to the pinnacle of the sport at the
Championship level, involving glamorous sounding trips to the bright lights and sounds of the
F1 in Monaco(!), are "what make it a fascinating,
diversified and ever so challenging position".
What are the key challenges facing the motorsport sector?
ln one word - "safety".
As explained above, the FIA is the governing body for
world motor sport and the federation of the world's
leading motoring organizations. Its member clubs
represent millions of motorists and their families.
Recognizing that motor spore is inherently dangerous, the FIA works ceaselessly to improve
safety ac all levels of competition. The FIA Safety
Department offers the possibility for manufacturers to obtain an FIA homologation in relation
to specific safety equipment such as helmets,
seats and overalls.
Not something unique co che mocorsporc industry, but che issue of counterfeited goods and the
illegal trade of homologaced motorsport safety
goods and equipment are seen as a major area of
increased concern. "Counterfeit goods are on my
lise of challenges - participant and spectator lives
should nor be pue ac risk by counterfeited products.
Given FIA· s capacity as the governing body of motor sport and as provider of homologation certificates this issue is seen as one of the main priorities."
By Giles Corbally,
improving FIA Internet monitoring solutions in
order to shut down online distribution channels and sellers' accounts on a range of e-commerce platforms."
The counterfeit issue "is a continuous battle, bue
one that we are fully prepared to address head on"
ECTA - strengths and areas for improvement
The FIA imposes the use of homologated safety
equipment (for example helmets, racing suits
shoes, gloves, underwear (actually our best seller!) and racing seats) on competitors competing in certain FIA championships. That racing
equipment is produced by third party manufacturers chat have obtained a homologation from
the FIA, ensuring that the equipment is safe and
up-co-standard; an exhaustive and up-co-dace
lise of all homologated products and their manufacturers is available on the FIA website.
The FIA is increasingly confronted with instances
of counterfeiting of FIA homologated safety equipment resulting in serious threats co participant and
spectator health and safety. The consequences of
the use of counterfeit helmets, failing to comply or
come anywhere near to complying with FIA standards, simply endangers the lives of participants.
"My current focus is on establishing a legal frameworkfor safety equipment homologation so as to
better define the obligations of each party, including the National Sporting Authorities, members
of the FIA and the manufacturers. We are doing
encouraging greater collaboration between
the homologation manufacturers to ensure
the development of more advanced homologation technology and tracking and detection
providing continued education and training
on the various legal, technological and business steps available to combat counterfeiting;
organizing trainingfor the officials running all
FIA competitions to assist with differentiating
between counterfeited and genuine products;
To put it simply, Cécile is a fan. From a personal
education and professional perspective ECTA is
seen as a "friendly organization" and through its
"well organized and attended conferences" a great
way of "keeping up to date on not only the latest developments but with friends and colleagues
from across the EU and elsewhere".
Cécile would like to see ECTA as continuing co
focus its efforts and resources at being the 'go to
authority for both its members, but also the array
of EU and national bodies on trade mark related issues affecting and impacting the European market".
Cécile sees this specialism as ECTA · s key differentiator between it and the other user associations.
Given its diverse membership of EU trade mark
experts Cécile would also like co see the organization taking a greater advocacy role at the EU level
on strategic issues impacting its membership.
Outside of IP
ln the limited free time available, Cécile loves all
things sport related. Being based in Geneva, Switzerland and being in the enviable position of having the Alps on her doorstep Cécile enjoys nothing more than skiing in the winter months and
running / skating along Lake Geneva in the summer - "a hard life, I can hear them all say already!"
If Cécile had not found IP she would more than
likely have become a photojournalist for a travel/cultural magazine. Ticking the box for both
travel, exploration and art. As a fellow expat myself, a wanderlust we both share!
ECTA Bulletin I 23